Nikola Jokic Likes Playing at Heavier Weight to Avoid Being Pushed Around

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2019

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Denver. Portland won 97-90. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said Friday that he is at a playing weight between 275 and 280 pounds to give himself a strategic advantage.

According to ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk, Jokic feels as though carrying the extra weight makes him more difficult to handle on the court: "To be honest, I like to be a little bit heavier like how I am right now. I was lighter than this, say 15 pounds. But I didn't feel right. Because the guys are pushing me, I was not that heavy, I was light. I just needed a little bit more weight to keep up with those guys."

The added weight has seemingly paid dividends for the All-Star big man, as he is averaging 23.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game during the playoffs.

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Jokic, who is officially listed at 7'0" and 250 pounds, takes any jokes about his weight in stride: "That story has been [with me] all my life. To be honest, sometimes it is funny for me just because [sometimes what they say] it's true, and [yet] I am still playing in the NBA. Someone said, 'He's not even in shape.' I am playing in 80 games and he said that I'm not even in shape."

Jokic insists he is actually in better shape now than he was when he arrived in Denver in 2015: "There were not any muscles. Now around 292, but I have a couple of muscles."

In addition to having a big body that is difficult to neutralize down low, the 24-year-old gives opponents nightmares due to his versatility and varied skill set.

During the regular season, Jokic enjoyed a career year with averages of 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. While seven-footers generally aren't regarded as great passers, Jokic ranked ninth in the NBA in assists per contest this season and sixth in total assists.

Thanks largely to Jokic's emergence, the Nuggets finished second in the Western Conference this season at 54-28 after having missed the playoffs for five straight seasons.

Jokic and the Nuggets are currently tied 1-1 in their second-round playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers after eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the first round.

On Friday night, Jokic will put his physique to the test when he and the Nuggets look to take a 2-1 series lead against Portland on the road in Game 3.

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